Since last Friday, NBC News hosted a national discussion that explored developments, challenges, and progress in education, as well as identify and explore new, exciting opportunities to reinvent America as an Education Nation. Yesterday we shared Itai Dinour’s reflections from Education Nation. Today, East New York Program Manager Dan Lee is our guest blogger and is sharing his experience at Education Nation.
Last week the Education Nation Experience was open at Rockefeller Center for visitors to learn more about education in America
I had the opportunity to attend the NBC News, Education Nation Summit this past Monday. It was great to hear from so many advocates of public education sharing the specific improvements that can be made to further support teachers, parents, and communities. From star athletes (Lebron James) to CEOs (Warren Buffett) to teachers to scientists to governors, they all care about the quality of education now and for the future.
The state of education in this nation is an issue for all Americans and there are many reasons why. Many believe that education is the civil rights issue of this generation and that education reform is crucial to prepare America to compete in the global economy. Whatever your opinion is, it’s hard to disagree that more needs to be done. Below are a few of the thoughts that I am taking away from my day at Education Nation.
- College and workforce readiness starts with early education: Every year more students are entering college or the workforce less prepared. Early education is important and without a strong start, students begin school at a huge disadvantage. Our mission at City Year is to help end the high school dropout crisis, and our work in elementary and middle schools is preparing students to be on track by the time they reach high school.
- Students who are behind need extra help: Melinda Gates mentioned her work at MET Project (Measures of Effective Teaching) which has confirmed that students benefit greatly from one-on-one specialized interventions, “Boy do we need that,” she said. City Year focuses on running scientifically-based intervention programs in literacy and we have also seen evidence that this is effective. Last year, 90% of 3rd through 5th grade students tutored by City Year, across the country, improved raw literacy scores. Boy do we do that.
- It takes a village: “School systems cannot do it by themselves; when the community comes together that is when the magic happens,” said U.S. Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan. In my role as a Program Manager at City Year New York, I get to see this first hand. When I see students, teachers, administrators, parents, and community based organizations work together it’s a beautiful thing.
One of City Year’s values that seemed ever present at the Summit was, “Students first, collaboration always.” I appreciated being part of such an idealistic approach to spreading knowledge about and around education issues all over America. But, speaking about education isn’t enough; I’ll be looking forward to see what changes for the better are made in the next few years.
Additional note: My experience at City Year has been a very local and New York-focused. I had the opportunity to speak with attendees from all across the country who knew all about City Year and our impact. Many were surprised to find out that I was from New York, and not from their local City Year site -shout out to CYLA; you got quite a few fans out there.
Sessions that I attended:
- Education Nation Spotlight
- Brain Power: Why Early Learning Matters
- Innovation Spotlight: Sal Khan | Khan Academy
- Classrooms in Action: A Window on Great Teaching
- Classroom 2025: The Changing Face of Education
- The State of Education: The Governors’ Perspective
- Innovation Spotlight: John Hunter | World Peace Game
- Who’s Getting Graded: Putting Accountability to the Test
Today is the final day of the NBC News, Second Annual Education Nation Summit. For the past five days NBC News hosted a national discussion that explored developments, challenges, and progress in education, as well as identify and explore new, exciting opportunities to reinvent America as an Education Nation. City Year was honored and excited to be invited as an attendee and participant in this year’s summit. Today’s Guest Blogger is our Executive Director, Itai Dinour, who represented City Year New York at the summit.
For the last two days, I had the opportunity to attend Education Nation, an amazing conversation produced by NBC News. Like last year, I leave the two days of sessions with a greater appreciation for the complexities of what it takes to make schools stronger, but deeply inspired by the community of innovators who are demonstrating what is possible. Most importantly, I walked away with a renewed sense of confidence that the work of the City Year corps members is one key ingredient in the education reform landscape.
Through the plenaries, smaller sessions, and hallway mingling, several themes kept popping up:
- From politics to action: As Chancellor Walcott said early in his tenure, we need a sense of civility in the education reform conversation. As compared to last year, the tone of this year’s session was positive, solution oriented and I applaud the organizers for showcasing what works in education. From observing three teachers live in their classrooms, to meeting the next generation of education innovators, to featuring City Year’s partnership with Mayors, NBC was effectively highlighting bright spots.
- The importance of school culture: From President Clinton, Geoffrey Canada, Diane Ravitch to Cory Booker, many of the thought leaders talked about school culture as a key ingredient for success. Yet clearly, more work needs to happen to understand how to transform both the student and adult culture while effectively integrating parents.
- Neighborhood based solutions: Throughout several panels, the question of the role of zip codes as a determining factor for a child’s chances for success were debated. As the City Year New York team knows, this is a critical question we wrestle wrestle with as we focus our efforts in four communities yet struggle to determine the best strategy for serving our students as they travel throughout New York City for their high school years. In addition, these conversations reminded me of the important role that community partnerships play, in particular with local stakeholders who can support the holistic needs of students and their families.
- The ability to use data as an intervention tool: While no perfect system exists (yet), it was reassuring to hear how hungry the education community is to get access to the right student level data that can determine the best interventions. Perhaps by next year’s summit, there will be a more perfect solution that is accessible by educators, community partners, and parents alike.
Thank you again to our partners at NBC Universal, Comcast, and Education Nation for dedicating the time and resources for these crucial conversations and for letting members of the City Year community participate.
I encourage you to check out www.educationnation.com for footage from the summit and to continue the conversation.
Also – please read Itai’s reflections from Day 1 and Day 2 from last year’s Education Nation Summit.
Last Thursday, New York City students went back to school and we were excited to share with our community a short video that gives a look at last year’s impact and some of the new innovations that we are bringing to our service this year. Check out the video if you have not seen it yet.
One of the new and exciting announcements in that video is that our corps members will be working on the ABCs in two NYC high schools, implementing Diplomas Now. Diplomas Now is a school turnaround collaboration between City Year corps members, Communities In Schools (CIS) and Talent Development at Johns Hopkins University.
Anna M. Philips, writer at the SchoolBook (a blog that also launched last week by the NYT and WNYC, which will rinclude stories, information, and conversations about NYC schools – If you are interested in education in NYC you should bookmark this site), visited one of these new partnerships, Sheepshead Bay to talk to students and teachers about kicking off the new year. Read full story HERE.
“We have more help this year, and you can’t say no to more help,” he said, gesturing to the City Year members. “The school has been getting better every year, and this will probably take us over the edge. We’ve got a 63 percent graduation rate, and we’re trying to get it to 68 percent this year and then raise it every year.”